Maylin Tu

Courtesy of Tranzito-Vector

After over 20 years of failure, Los Angeles has a new contract to add 3,000 high-tech bus shelters to city streets by 2033. The City Council voted 12-1 to approve an agreement with curbside management and micromobility operator Tranzito-Vector.

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Courtesy of Tranzito-Vector

What’s the big deal about bus shelters?

The unassuming pieces of street furniture took center stage at a joint meeting of the Los Angeles City Council’s Public Works and Budget and Finance committees Wednesday. At issue: new, expanded high-tech features, digital ads and an accelerated schedule for building bus shelters that have been thwarted over the last 20 years by what some advocates consider excessive NIMBYism.

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Photo by Maylin Tu

It’s Friday night in Downtown Los Angeles and fleet manager Adan Aceves is cruising the streets in his Ford Ranger pickup truck looking for a bird — not an e-scooter, but an actual bird.

“First time I saw the bird I was wondering what the hell is it doing in Downtown?,” said Aceves. “It doesn't seem like a city bird, like a pigeon or a seagull…The second time I realized, ‘Damn, I only find this fool in Skid Row.’”

We never come across the mysterious bird who acts like a human. Instead, we drive the streets of Downtown, dropping off and picking up scooters — a different type of Bird — under the bright lights and amid throngs of people, many of them dressed to the nines and out on the town, looking for a good time.

By day, Aceves, 41, works in his family’s business repairing power tools in South Central. By night, he deploys, charges and rebalances e-scooters for Bird, one of eleven fleet managers located Downtown. The zone that he covers includes Dignity Health on Grand Avenue (once called California Hospital) where he was born.

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